Movie Review: The Eye

As a whole, I’m getting really tired of remakes of Japanese horror movies. Fortunately, The Eye comes from Hong Kong.

To some, it may seem like just another Asian import, but the cultural differences between Chinese and Japanese filmmaking gave the original a fresh feel, compared to the deluge of J-horror coming across the ocean. While there are some similar suspense techniques and imagery, it didn’t feel as tired as the Japanese films that have been overdone as of late.

The Eye tells the story of a blind woman named Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), who gets a cornea transplant. While her new eyes are working well, she suddenly discovers that they work too well. Not only do they allow her to see, they allow her to see the dead. Sydney is haunted by ghostly visions, and no one will believe her. She soon decides to track down her donor to solve the mystery.

As far as remakes go, this film is practically a carbon copy of the original Chinese-language film, which was directed by the Pang Brothers. If you’re familiar with the original, you’ll probably appreciate the remake. Some shots are taken directly from the first film, and there are minimal changes, many of which are for cultural reasons. (For example, in the original, the main character still lives with her family while Jessica Alba’s incarnation is more independent.)

Of course, Asian horror buffs will probably skewer this film for being too Americanized and treading on the good memory of the original. However, I think this had a smoother transition than most Asian imports. It manages to keep many of the creepier moments and still have an impact.

And it doesn’t hurt to have Jessica Alba in the movie. She’s worth a bump in the grade for the film simply because she’s probably the most beautiful actress in Hollywood today. And she seems unencumbered by playing in less artsy, middle-grade films. I hope she doesn’t get too big of an ego and start to demand some Oscar bait films. I like her in the pure entertainment spectrum.

Overall, Alba carries herself through the film, and she works well with indie darling Parker Posey. The only real acting stumble comes from Alessandro Nivola, who seems to keep getting roles even though he pretty much peaked in Jurassic Park III.

The story works for an early-year horror flick. There are some moments that derail a bit, with no explanation and some cheap grabs at startling the audience. And in the middle of the film, the story does bog down a bit with some padding that looks like it came out of a independent music video. However, with a relatively short running time, The Eye kept my interest.

However, I wouldn’t go expecting an overtly scary movie. There are some nice horror elements, but I really never saw anything that chilling. The suspense was only so-so, and it’s the concepts behind the film that I found more interesting than the scary moments.

Considering The Eye was held from critics for review, it turned out to be surprisingly decent – much better than the putrid One Missed Call we were assaulted with last month.

The Upside: A pretty faithful remake to the original Chinese-language film.

The Downside: Not as scary as I would have liked.

On the Side: Don’t tell anyone, but I’m the father of Jessica Alba’s baby!

Grade: B

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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